“The Cave” – 2008; W 18″ x D 10 ” x H 8 1/2″; Eel River stone and ash wood with stain
Mas collected this is stone from the Eel River. The finished suiseki gives the image of a beautiful snow-covered distant peak with a deep, mysterious, cave underneath.
Mas spent a lot of time studying this stone to learn how to appreciate it as a suiseki, and in this article I want to share his artistic process. The main problem with the stone is the heavy left-hand side, which makes the stone very unbalanced.
The first set of pictures (1-7) show various possibilities for how to position the stone. One solution is to cut the stone (picture 6). This solves the imbalance by removing the left side, and would make a rather nice, simple toyama ishi (遠山石 or distant mountain stone).
As readers know, Mas sometimes will cut a stone when he feels it is artistically necessary, but in this case he did not want to. This meant that he had to find a way to handle the left side imbalance. Mas said: “I know I am crazy and it doesn’t make sense, but I love this part as much as the beautiful snow mountain. The huge unbalance is so unique! Because of that reason, I would rather take a chance and try to create the art.“
One option was to finish this as “suiseki art” similar to Looking Forward. But the combination of the snow mountain overhanging the wide board didn’t seem to harmonize.
Alternatively, he could just simply make a daiza by filling up the space under the stone. But this would result in a big wood wall in the front – sort of repeating the problem I discussed in The Struggle.
He wanted to change what seems like a negative into a positive. It is not unlike human life – we all have weaknesses of various kinds that aren’t going to go away. We have to live with and work with these aspects of ourselves and others.
Once he has decided on his approach, he makes some sketches of the design, and then renders this design into a plaster model (Pictures 8 and 9). Once he is satisfied with the design, Mas completes and refines the daiza in wood (Pictures 10 and 11).
The finished piece is shown from different angles in pictures 12-15. In this suiseki Mas tried to balance the weight of the stone with the emptiness of the cave. He said “Dark, empty, space creates a mysterious feeling and allows people to use their own free imagination.“